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World parties amid tight security

Brandenburg Gate
Berliners held Europe's biggest street party

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LONDON, England -- The New Year has been ushered in across the world with parties and fireworks amid heightened security.

Millions of people took to the streets to celebrate, with some of the biggest crowds recorded at New York's Times Square and Berlin's Brandenburg Gate.

Extra police officers were drafted in across the world's capitals and anti-terror officers mingled with crowds.

The biggest police presence in Europe was in Moscow where 250,000 policemen kept the peace after fears of drunken violence similar to that which accompanied the World Cup football tournament.

In Berlin, around one million people are believed to have taken part in Europe's largest street party around the Brandenburg Gate.

The same number of people are estimated to have crowded Times Square in the U.S. to see New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Christopher Reeve usher in the New Year.

U.S. President George W. Bush promised to "secure America, win the war on terrorism" in his New Year message from his Texan ranch, but other messages by world leaders were less positive. (Full Story)

Security in Paris was beefed up by an additional 1,000 police officers, raising the numbers to 5,500. Cars were banned from around the Champs Elysees as 300,000 revellers partied.

London's traditional gathering in Trafalgar Square was blocked by road construction works, leaving 50,000 partygoers to head to the Millennium Dome in the Docklands.

About 2,000 police officers patrolled London's streets with anti-terror squads on a heightened state of alert.

Edinburgh celebrated Hogmanay in style
Edinburgh celebrated Hogmanay in style

Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair warned of the dangerous times ahead including hostilities with Iraq, the threat from terror attacks and the lack of progress on the Middle East peace process.

"I cannot recall a time when Britain was confronted, simultaneously, by such a range of difficult and in some cases dangerous problems," he said.

Pope John Paul II instead looked back on the past year thanking God "for all the benefits he generously gave us."

North Korea, currently in dispute with the U.S. over the resumption of its nuclear programme, failed to dampen fears of confrontation.

A joint editorial by the country's three major newspapers representing the communist party, military and youth militia force urged people to build an army-based "powerful nation."

An anti-U.S. candlelight vigil in Seoul in South Korea attracted about 12,000 people protesting against the military for the deaths of two girls killed in an accident by an American army vehicle.

Hours before midnight in the Philippines, a grenade tossed into a fireworks stand killed six people and injured 32 others in the city of Tacurong in Sultan Kudarat province, police said. Authorities blamed the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but the group has denied involvement. (Full Story)

A New Year's kiss
A New Year's kiss

At least 28 people died when an explosion and fire in a street market packed with fireworks stalls went off in Veracruz, Mexico.(Full Story)

Indonesia, which has suffered from terror attacks in Bali, saw in the New Year with 200,000 security personnel on duty, especially in the capital Jakarta where several foreign embassies had warned of new attacks during the holiday period. (Asia celebrations)

Australians, who bore the brunt of the Bali attacks in October, celebrated New Year in style in Sydney amid a level of security not seen since the 2000 Olympics. An estimated 700,000 witnessed a firework display at the harbour.

One of the partygoers was quoted by Reuters as saying: "They didn't listen to the doomsayers; we didn't listen to the malcontents; we went on and celebrated and had a great party."

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